John McQuaid discusses certain errors made in the
review of the novel Zeitoun, (a nonfiction story of one family’s experience of Hurricane Katrina) by NYT book critic Timothy Eagan. One such mistake is that the levees were overtopped. WRONG.
The responsibility for most of the damage to New Orleans and the awful events immediately following the storm lies with the Corps – that is, the federal government. This is not in dispute; three distinct investigations have laid the blame on the Corps, including the Corps’s own study. In any assessment of what happened – scientific, political, historical – this is crux of what went wrong, a terrible failure American know-how whose broader implications are alarming and remain mostly unexamined. New Orleanians and Louisiana politicians and media types do their best to remind the powers that be of these scandalous facts.